Contest is closed, but the recipe is still fantastic, so scroll down for that!
The random winner is #13, Marie. Congrats, Marie!
Stay tuned for more fun giveaways...
Up until I made this dish, I’d never had Andouille sausage. It’s true. Now I see that I’ve been missing out. Why didn’t any of you tell me how deliciously spicy it was? Where were you all when I was perfectly happy having Italian sausage? I love Italian, too, but this Andouille…it could make me forget about Italian sausage for a long while. This is serious, folks.
We regularly visit a farm in MA called Tendercrop Farms. They’ve got the usual local produce and locally made things, along with great gifts, beautiful plants, etc. What you would expect when you visit a farm. They also have this fabulous meat counter in the back of the store, with their own fresh meats and sausages! One weekend, on a whim, we got some Andouille. I had no idea what to expect, but as they usually do, they had samples out for customers to try. I’m not going to lie, I went back for about five samples from the Andouille tray. It’s addictive! I had no idea what I was going to do with it, other than cook it, hide in a dark room, and eat the whole pound of it by myself! Ahem…that thought never crossed my mind. Really!
This dish is very easy to make. It’s just a few steps to a nice bowl of slightly spicy comfort food. Add crusty bread--maybe with butter and garlic, and oh yes, comfort food heaven. We’re coming up on cooler weather in this part of the world, so think about this one when you’re craving a hot bowl of something that will warm you from the inside out. Or just crank up the AC and pretend it’s cold outside!
A note about the sausage--if you can’t find Andouille, use your favorite. If you want it sliced, cut it when it’s still slightly frozen. It'll hold it’s shape this way. If it’s fresh, put it in the freezer for 20-30 minutes to firm it up--this works just as well. If all else fails, remove it from the casing and crumble it in.
Andouille Sausage Pasta Thing
Serves 4 hungry people
1 (16 oz) box bowtie pasta (or your favorite shape)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped shallots (or onion)
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 small yellow red pepper, seeded and sliced
1 cup oyster mushrooms (or whatever kind you have on hand)
Old Bay Seasoning
fresh cracked black pepper
1 (6 oz) bag baby spinach leaves
1 pound Andouille sausage, sliced or removed from casing (if you can't find it, use Italian sausage)
2 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp cornstarch
small amount of water
1 1/4 cup small heirloom, grape, or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup fresh sliced basil leaves
grated parmesan cheese
Set a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta according to package directions, drain, toss with a small amount of olive oil, and set aside in a large bowl.
While the pasta water is coming to a boil, and while it cooks, set a large skillet over medium heat. Quickly sauté the garlic and shallots, about one minute or so, then add the peppers and mushrooms. Sprinkle with the Old Bay (about 1 teaspoon) and the pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon). Cook for about 3 minutes, then add the spinach. Cook one more minute and remove from the pan. Set aside.
Add the sliced or crumbled sausage to the pan and cook until no longer pink. Remove from the pan and set aside. Carefully wipe out the pan and place it back on the burner.
Add the broth to the pan and set the heat to high. Bring it just to a boil. Mix the cornstarch with just enough cold water to dissolve it--about a teaspoon or two. Mix it so there are no lumps, and then stir it into the broth to thicken it.
Turn the heat back to down to medium low. Add the bell pepper/mushroom/spinach mixture and the cooked sausage back to the pan, and stir to coat. Add the basil and tomatoes into the pan at the last minute, stir them through.
Pour all of this over the pasta that you've set aside. Toss to coat, test for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.
- If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, hide them for yourself! This tastes just as good, if not better, the next day.
Now for the Giveaway!
We grew our own Oyster Mushrooms, right at home! It was totally fun,too. I was amazed how quickly they grew once they started--it was like there was no stopping them! Also, the kids really enjoyed watching them sprout to life. Most of the time, growing things at home takes a lot of patience, which as we all know, is in short supply when it comes to kids. Bonus! When you’re done growing them on one side of the box, turn it around and do the same on the other side!
Nikhil, from Back to the Roots, contacted me a while ago about trying one of their kits. I was immediately drawn to this, because their kits are made with recycled materials, and when you’re done, you can sprinkle the soil from the box right into your garden or as we did, right into the compost bin! So these are a win-win for everyone. (In fact, we noticed over the weekend that the mushrooms are growing in the compost bin now, too. So funny! I should have waited and tried again in the house before composting. Ah well, I can buy another kit!)
I’m also thinking that with Back To School time upon us, how great would it be to buy one of these kits to send to your kid’s teacher? It would be a fun lesson in not only recycling, but growing your own healthy food at home!
A little info about Back to the Roots:
- Back to the Roots was founded by Alejandro Velez & Nikhil Arora during their last semester at UC Berkeley in 2009.
- They came up with the idea (during a class lecture) of being able to potentially grow gourmet mushrooms entirely on recycled coffee grounds. Now that’s using class time wisely, in my opinion!
- Inspired by the idea of turning waste into wages & fresh, local food, they experimented in Alex's fraternity kitchen, ultimately growing one test bucket of tasty oyster mushrooms on recycled coffee grounds.
- With that one bucket, some initial interest from Whole Foods & Chez Panisse and a $5,000 grant from the UC Berkeley Chancellor for social innovation, they decided to forget the corporate route, and instead, become full-time urban mushroom farmers!
Their efforts today:
- On pace in 2011 to collect, divert and reuse 1 million lbs. of coffee grounds this year from Peet's Coffee & Tea
- Help families grow over 250,000lbs of fresh food at home in 2011!
- Sustained 10 urban school & community gardens by donating BTTRs premium soil amendment.
- Selling the kits at over 300 Whole Foods nationwide!
So after reading those facts, how could anyone not be on board with a great, eco-friendly business venture like this? Please check out the graphic at the bottom of their “Our Story” page to really see the cycle (or “recycle”) of how the kits are made!
One important point--in the kit directions, it says for best results, soak the inner package for 24 hours before proceeding. This is very important, so please make sure you do this step.
If you’d like to go ahead and order some kits right away, here’s a discount code for you to use to get 10% off: Mushrooms4me10
Back to the Roots is offering to give one of their kits to one of you!
- Just leave a comment here telling me what plans you have for your own kit. Would you use it yourself, or send it with your child to school? Would you give it as a gift? What would you cook with the mushrooms? You get the idea!
- Leave a valid email address so I can reach you if you win, please.
- Extra entries if you want to tweet about this or share it on your Facebook wall. One extra entry per tweet or FB share.
That’s it! I’ll choose a winner on Wednesday, Sept. 7th. (US shipping only.)
Disclaimer: I was given a kit to try at home, free of charge. My opinions are my own and not influenced by the supplier of the kit.